This lively volume from professor and pastor Jennifer Davidson considers the historic theology of the Christian rites of baptism and communion from a Baptist perspective, and then she explores the practical implications of these rituals for a life of radical discipleship. As if this practical theology of the church tradition were not constructive enough, the author has also gathered a variety of classical liturgies and original worship resources from an array of voices, diverse in culture, gender, and ethnicity, offering today’s congregations a rich collection of worship resources for contemporary baptismal and communion services. Valuable for liturgical scholarship, congregational education, and pastoral leadership. Online Leader’s Guide available for small-group study!
Christian congregations, and perhaps especially today those of the Baptist ethos, need to be guided by a profoundly biblical and theological understanding of who we are and what we are about in the service of God in this world. It is not only pastors or theological specialists who need this understanding. We all need an adult faith to engage creatively as Good News for the world. In River of Life, Feast of Grace, Jennifer Davidson has offered us just such a vision of Christian life. The special strength of this work is its combination and integration of the three sub-themes: baptism, Communion, and discipleship. It is not just that each of these is important but that they work together, in what the apostle Paul presents as life in Christ. Incorporated into Christs body through baptism, we commune in and with God through the Spirit and live this way as disciples of Jesus. May this insightful and encouraging work bear much fruit in the lives of many individuals and congregations! Professor Frank Rees, University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia
Jennifer Davidson is among the most important scholars on worship in the Baptist traditions today, interweaving practical and theological conversations in this new volume on the ordinances. Her examination of baptism and communion is wonderfully ecumenical and intercultural in its theology, while also insisting on the local, contextual quality of each particular church. Davidson advocates for distinctively Baptist ways of doing theology and worship which are provisional, collegial, and rooted in community practices.Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray, Past President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Preaching, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, Michigan
Jennifer Davidson hosts a wonderful conversation about two of our most sacred practices in the Christian church. She does not shy away from the tough topics, either. She handles with grace the common and the controversial in a way that reminds the reader of the Spirits presence in both. I applaud Davidson for introducing the reader to the reflections of other Baptist leaders, too. She incorporates historical and contemporary notions of baptism and Communion in ways that remind us of the diversity and depth of our Baptist perspectives and traditions. Her personal anecdotes make the mystery of the ordinances accessible, while leaving enough mystery for our faith to kick in. This book is a great resource for the worship participant in the pulpit and the pew.Adam L. Bond, PhD, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University
A beautifully written book, accessible to lay and ordained alike. Davidsons deep appreciation for baptism and Communion is evident, as is the wisdom stemming from her years of experience teaching in a Baptist seminary. Showing profound respect for the breadth of Baptist tradition, she offers a feast of images for understanding the ordinances of our faith. She gently encourages rituals that embody these rich meanings, trusting her readers to adopt practices best suited to their context.Ruth Meyers, Dean of Academic Affairs and Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA
As the two ordinances of Baptist and other free church traditions, baptism and Communion are worthy of thoughtful preparation, renewed meaning-making, and intentional participation. River of Life, Feast of Grace is just the resource needed to instigate, inform, and inspire such endeavors among ministers and congregants alike. Davidsons inclusion of diverse voices adds integrity and relevance for faith communities searching for fresh approaches to discipleship.Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri, Regional Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin
In many local churches, baptism and the Lords Supper are often relegated to the status of obligatory rituals. In this beautifully written volume, Rev. Dr. Jennifer Davidson, a theologian of worship as well as a Sunday practitioner, challenges todays pastors and church leaders to discover these rituals deeper life-giving meaning. When baptism happens, a person not only dies, but also is reborn to discipleship in Christ. When the Lords Supper is shared, the gathered community embodies Gods realm of grace.
Dr. Davidsons personal stories and interviews from a diverse group of church leaders provide insights representative of todays increasingly multicultural world. More than an historic study of these ordinances, the book is rich with biblical references and worship resources for local churches to revitalize worship with baptism and the Lords Supper taking center stage rather than hovering at the periphery. Take this refreshing resource seriously. It can indeed revive the church!Rev. Dr. Don Ng, Retired Pastor, First Chinese Baptist Church, San Francisco, President, American Baptist Churches, USA, 2013-15
Jennifer W. Davidson, MDiv, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Theology & Worship at American Baptist Seminary of the West. She serves as Core Doctoral Faculty in the Religion and Practice Department and Theology and Ethics Department. In addition to teaching, she is a retreat leader who brings a deep and abiding interest in lived spirituality- seeking to cultivate attentiveness to God's presence in everyday life. It is out of this spirituality that she lives out her commitments to liberative contemplative education, engaged scholarship, and advocacy.